Literature Reviews for Public Affairs and Policy: Home

Designed as a guide for students in the PAP PhD program.

Literature Reviews for Public Affairs and Policy

While the PSU Library already has an excellent general guide on conducting literature reviews,  this page was created to specifically highlight resources of interest to students in the Public Affairs and Policy program. The guide is organized as a step-by-step tutorial to reflect that the literature review is a systematic process, if not always linear; as the literature review grows and new themes emerge, it may become necessary  to circle back to early steps. The guide covers:

  • Getting Started: Framing your topic or question into search terms that work in databases.
  • Using databases to find research articles, reports, and grey literature.
  • Finding published literature reviews in journals, special publications, and dissertations.
  • Using bibliographies and citations to find additional materials.
  • Using citation management software to help organize your resources.

The guide also begins with an brief discussion of Literature Reviews and Annotated Bibliographies, discussing the purpose and key functions of each.

Purpose of a Literature Review

As state in your PAP 614 syllabus, you'll need at least 20 scholarly references, and the literature review surrounding these sources should achieve three goals:

  1. Provide an introduction to the topic.
  2. Critically review the existing literature through synthesis and evaluation.
  3. Summarize the state of the field, identifying trends, themes, and gaps within the body of work.

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